From the moment the Monroe Diner on Route 25 began serving customers in mid-December, people have found their way there for everything from omlets to burgers, and Greek specialties to cheese blintzes.
“It wasn’t as soft an opening as we thought because from the minute we opened the door, people have been flocking in,” said Andy Tsilfides, one of the four part-owners.
The diner at 568 Main St. in Monroe was years in the making, at the site of the former New Colony Diner. The new owners kept the building’s steel frame, but everything else is new.
“We gutted the entire place, expanded the kitchen, made everything new,” said Zenny Tziolis, another part owner.
The restaurant is open seven days a week — including all night on Fridays and Saturdays — and should employ up to 50 full- and part-time employees once in full swing. It can seat 110 people, and has a full liquor license.
Ribbon cutting ceremony
The diner recently hosted a grand opening ceremony with the Monroe Chamber of Commerce that included a ribbon cutting. The diner has been operating since Dec. 10.
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“This isn’t just a business, it’s a family business,” said First Selectman Stephen J. Vavrek, who cut the ceremonial ribbon while guests tasted some of the diner’s food specialties. “They have fit in from day one.”
The Monroe Diner’s four part-owners also are associated with the Circle Diner in Fairfield and Sherwood Diner in Westport.
A positive response from the community
Dimitri Alatakis, a part-owner, said opening the diner has been a terrific experience. “Many customers who stop in tell us, ‘We’ve been looking forward to having this place back,’” Alatakis said.
Petrit Xhaho, a part-owner, said the response has been very positive from people in Monroe and surrounding towns. “They love our cheese blintzes and chicken souvlaki [a Greek dish],” Xhaho said.
Tziolis said being located where another diner operated for many years can be an advantage, because people are familiar with the location. He also said the heavily-trafficked Route 25 gives the diner excellent public exposure.
Missed having a diner in town
Lee Hossler, Monroe Economic Development Commission chairman, said he expects the diner to do well. “Everyone has really missed having a diner for all these years it’s been closed,” he said. “This is a great addition to the town.”
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Hossler said it’s especially nice having a place to grab an informal meal in the late evening, such as after seeing a film at a movie theater. He pointed out the diner has created jobs and will expand the tax base.
He’s also impressed with the design of the building. “Just the fact that it looks so nice from the outside — they did a good job with the architecture — will increase interest in other businesses coming to town,” Hossler said.
Ray Giovanni, Monroe Chamber of Commerce president, said the new diner “has been long anticipated. We’ve been waiting for it to be back up and running — and in a brand new facility. Everyone is raving about their food, service and commitment to the community. The prices are fair, too.”
Open seven days a week
The Monroe Diner is open Monday to Thursday from 6 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., 24 hours on Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday until midnight. It offers eat-in service and take-out orders.
The menu is expansive like most diners, ranging from pancakes to steak, salads to sandwiches, and seafood to ethnic dishes.